Members of Women of Zimbabwe Arise (WOZA) in Harare continued with the campaign to directly engage school authorities over unreasonable demands on parents today. Representative groups met with school authorities at 12 schools across Harare and Chitungwiza to outline the concerns of parents and to deliver copies of petitions protesting against the extra demands placed on parents by schools, in particular the demand for stationery and cleaning materials.
At Seke 7 Primary School in St Marys and Seke 1 High School in Zengeza, both headmasters welcomed the representative groups with enthusiasm, commending WOZA for the work it is doing, and encouraging the parents to continue to defend their children’s rights. The reception was less welcome at Seke 1 Primary School in St Marys but at least the headmaster met with the representative group and responded to their concerns. At Dudzai High School in Zengeza the headmaster refused to meet with the representative group unless they had a letter from the district education office. The petitions were therefore left with the bursar.
The district education officer later contacted leaders in the area, after petitions had been presented at the three schools, commending WOZA for the good initiative. He complained that parents did not speak openly at meetings about levies or simply did not attend. He advised WOZA to encourage parents who are struggling to pay fees to attend the meetings.
In Chitungwiza North, the headmasters of Tamuka and Farai Primary Schools were very cooperative after they had seen the petitions. They explained that the USD 50 charged for levies covers the cost of the text books and to maintain the grounds. At Farai, the school authorities admitted that the school was not very clean and promised to do something about that soon. At Kambuzuma 2 High School, the headmaster explained that the teachers’ fee of USD 10 is used to buy chemicals and pay the grounds men. He complained that parents were not actively involved in the improvement of the school and did not attend school meetings yet were quick to criticize.
In Dzivarasekwa, the headmaster of Dzivarasekwa 4 Primary School welcomed the representative group and was happy to discuss their concerns. When asked why his school was sending pupils home because for failure to pay fees, he said it was an agreement with parents who had attended a meeting when schools opened and they had agreed that if school fees was not paid by the 5th March, then pupils should be sent home. He said half of the levy paid was given to teachers as an allowance. The teachers at the school had started boycotting classes saying their salaries were poor. The headmaster of Dzivarasekwa 6 Primary was having a similar problem with teachers as they had told him they would not be teaching again until their salaries were reviewed. Both heads encouraged parents to attend and participate in meetings that affect their children.
In Glen View, the headmaster of Glenview 1 High School refused to meet with the representative group but the headmaster of Glen View 2 High, Mr Masiiwa, was more friendly, even addressing the parents who had gathered outside. He told them that extra allowances for teachers had been stopped since they had been instructed by the ministry to do so. He also said both school fees and levies could be paid in instalments as long as the parents approached the school authorities to make an arrangement to do so. No pupils have been sent home since schools opened. The headmaster of Glen View 7 Primary was also happy to meet with the representative group and address their concerns.
WOZA would like to commend the school authorities that took the time to meet with the representative groups of parents and address their concerns. As in Bulawayo, we would also like to encourage all parents to take an active role in participating in the running of the schools that your children attend and take responsibility to hold the school authorities accountable for the funds given to the school.